The Global Impact of Ageing: The Oldest Old

In an earlier blog we discussed how people aged over 85 are the fastest-growing segment of the UK population. However, this is not just happening here or in other industrialised nations; rather, it’s a global phenomenon.

Age UK is working with the Gerontological Society of America to invite articles from experts around the world on what is happening, why, and what it means for societies, health and social care services, and policy-makers. These submissions has been published in the recent Public Policy and Aging Report.

blogSome of these submissions looked at comparing life expectancy, disease, and disability trends in the 85+ group across countries. There are many variations, but one commonality across all of these countries is that the average person over 85 is a woman living alone in the community, which means governments and societies will have to think about how to meet growing needs for these people without family to look after them. Continue reading “The Global Impact of Ageing: The Oldest Old”

Understanding the Oldest Old

In 2012, the Office for National Statistics estimated that there are nearly 1.5 million people aged 85 and over in the UK. We are only at the beginning of an estimated escalation of numbers of people in this age group, projected to reach 5 million by 2050. What was formerly a small number of exceptional individuals is rapidly becoming a whole new generation for families in this country: the ‘Fourth Generation’.

Over recent years, through research, our contact with leading experts, and ourRea3 engagement with older people, it has become apparent to Age UK that we all need to know more about these ‘oldest old’. Often what we hear are stereotypes held over from days gone by – that these oldest people are all frail and in care homes, their useful life over. We are concerned that all of us who make decisions concerning their welfare need help to get up to date with their nature and needs.

So we asked experts to write summaries of what is known in their area of research about the ‘oldest old’. We’ve collected these lay-person summaries into a short book, ‘Understanding the Oldest Old.’ Continue reading “Understanding the Oldest Old”

Guest Blog: The oldest old and preventative services

This guess blog was written by Chrissy Bishop, an Occupational Therapist.

The term ‘prevention’ in health and social care is promoted as a gold star, a cost saver, a key policy driver; but is it being practiced? Is this term applicable and realistic to apply to the oldest old population (85+)? Are those involved in care of the elderly prepared and sufficiently educated to focus on prevention for a very old individual?

These queries have materialised from my current work in a reablement project. Reablement services are a pivotal, well known incentive of the government’s continued efforts to save costs of long term care packages through enabling independence. But on a controversial note, is the heavy focus on cost saving as opposed to the patients needs?

From a professional experience reablement still seems like an ‘action on crisis’ approach, and highlights a gaping hole in services. Why is this when National Service Frameworks have drummed preventative strategies into health workers for years now? Additionally, studies continue to highlight the overwhelming consequences of the oldest old developing a health problem, which is usually followed by a ‘cascade effect’ with one condition triggering another problem, and another and so on. This downward spiral is a challenge for all health professionals involved, and the medical and nursing protocols are more black and white than the social and emotional support required. Continue reading “Guest Blog: The oldest old and preventative services”